Bratz! Book Cover "So they're completely artificial?" the talking head asked, simpering professionally at the Spokesperson.

"Entirely so," the Spokesperson said, smiling politely in the direction of the 3D projection, "No more human than your good self. Oh, we've gone to some trouble to make them look human, of course, at least in terms of general form. Really, better than human, where we think that necessarily has advantages. Realistically life-like flesh and so on, but much stronger and more flexible than any living person."

"And they're just toys, according to your press release," the interviewer pressed.

The Spokesperson nodded gravely.

"Absolutely. Adult toys, of course. Some customers may even remember the original versions, if they've been able to keep up their anti-aging regimes over the past centuries. But, yes, toys - playthings for adults."

The Spokesperson was actually physically present in person, seated at one of numerous small tables grouped closely around the floodlit stage at the centre of the aggressively retro-styled nightclub. The club was crowded, every seat filled with punters - almost all of them humans in the flesh - while obviously robotic waiting staff circulated with trays carrying drinks and snacks, decked out with entirely-unnecessary black dresses and white aprons just to add to the historical atmosphere.

"But toys based on one of the Twenty-First centuries most popular characters? Characters for children?"

The projected interviewer was also the eyes and ears of a recording and broadcasting facility. A tell-tale readout in the lower left corner of the projection indicated how many people were watching this transmission live. The number was climbing steadily.

The Spokesperson thought carefully about the next words. The toy corporation had gambled much time and money in this product launch. Shareholders and investment houses would be watching like hawks, looking for signs of a soaring success or a wild plummet into failure, all the better to buy or sell stocks and shares in the blink of a percentage point.

"As it happens, that's true," the Spokesperson said levelly, "But we have re-imagined them for a new audience, making playmates for the modern world. Our market research shows us that this is what people want. And we want to give it to them."

The synthetic anchorperson nodded encouragingly, obviously moving on to the next item on the script.

"So, are you going to show us what they can do?"

The Spokesperson grinned widely.

"Absolutely! Let the floor show begin!"

The spotlights swirled and the booming, bouncing beats of the archaic music sounded out over the stage as the first of the Bratz paraded on.

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